INDEPENDENCE — This doesn’t happen every day, every year.
Their backs against the wall at intermission, the Independence Mustangs responded by owning the second half and dropping West Delaware, 31-14, in a Class 3A District 3 football game Friday night at Lyle Leinbaugh Field.
“You know you’re a legit team if you can beat a program like West Delaware,” said Indee’s Tristan Cordes, who intercepted a pair of passes in the fourth quarter. “We were coming off a bad loss last week (to Center Point-Urbana), and we came back and responded.”
Did they ever.
Logan Schmitt rushed for 148 yards and passed for 186 as Independence (4-1 overall, 1-0 3A-3) bested the Hawks for just the second time in the past 19 meetings, the third in the last 27.
The last two years, the Hawks prevailed by verdicts of 48-0 and 37-0,
“It feels so good,” said Schmitt, who ran for two touchdowns and passed for two more. “We prepared hard for this week. It’s really exciting.”
Down 14-10 at halftime, the Mustangs scored on their first three drives of the second half. Fourteen plays for 69 yards. Thirteen plays for 76 yards. Five plays for 88 yards.
“After last week, to see how we responded to this week, I’m really proud of them,” Indee Coach Justin Putz said.
The dagger came on the final scoring drive, a 71-yard quarterback keeper down the middle of the field by Schmitt.
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“I got past the line of scrimmage and it was all green in front of me,” he said. “I didn’t want anybody to catch me, so I tucked it in and ran.”
Independence broke to a 10-0 lead on Sean Geertsema’s 32-yard field goal and a 13-yard touchdown pass from Schmitt to Brady Webb, but West Delaware (3-2, 0-1) answered with two TDs in a span of 74 seconds to take a 14-10 halftime lead.
Caleb Kehrli’s 5-yard run capped a 12-play, 81-yard march. Then, after an Independence punt, Nick Casey got loose for an 85-yard quarterback keeper to put the Hawks in front.
The Hawks had the momentum on their side, but Indee grabbed it for good on the first drive of the second half.
“We knew that was going to be a huge drive,” Schmitt said. “We needed that momentum back.”
Independence hosts Waterloo East next week; West Delaware hosts Waverly-Shell Rock.
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